Whilst the US government, led by President Barack Obama, is trying to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020, the US Army is investing in renewable energy sources in order to make war safer for its soldiers.
The US Army has decided to invest billions of dollars in solar energy, as commanders have realised that they can save lives through energy conservation. In Afghanistan the role of protecting fuel convoys is one of the most dangerous jobs available, with roughly one death for every 24 missions.
Richard Kidd, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army and in charge of energy security, explained that with renewable energy “there is no supply chain vulnerability, there are no commodity costs and there’s a lower chance of disruption. A fuel tanker can be shot at and blown up. The sun’s rays will still be there.”
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In May the Army announced plans to spend $7 billion on green electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass projects over the next 30 years.
The Army’s ultimate goal is to become a ‘net zero’ energy user, producing as much electricity as it consumes, and it plans to install one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity by 2025 in the US, and reduce its overall non-tactical fuel consumption by 30 percent by 2020 from 2005 consumption levels.
At some bases in Afghanistan, the soldiers use floodlights connected to solar panels with built-in batteries in order to replace the traditional diesel generators. Sundial Capital has already sold about $10 million worth of portable solar plants to the Army’s special forces, helping to massively reduce the number of fuel convoys, and therefore increasing the safety of soldiers operating in the country.
Some base commanders have even been requesting renewable-energy systems faster than the Army has been able to provide.
The Army has also worked to reduce the number of fuel convoys by increasing the efficiency the use of diesel generators, power some sites with several small units, rather than one larger unit, that might have been producing more power than was needed.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com